SC upholds martial law declaration in Mindanao

MANILA (Updated) -- The Supreme Court (SC) voted Tuesday, July 4, to dismiss the petitions filed against President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Three petitions were filed at the SC challenging Duterte's Proclamation 216, which has placed Mindanao under martial rule since May 23.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te said Tuesday that 11 members of the SC voted to dismiss the petitions, three voted to partially grant them, and one voted to grant them.

A source said those who voted to dismiss the petitions were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estrella Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardaleza, Samuel Martirez and Noel Tijam.

The three magistrates who voted to partially grant the petitions were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Benjamin Caguioa, while the lone dissenter was Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

Te said all 15 justices have submitted their draft opinions on the matter, which will be consolidated Wednesday, July 5.

The three petitions seeking to nullify Duterte's proclamation of martial law in Mindanao were filed in June. The petitioners argued that there is no basis for implementing martial law in the south.

One of the petitioners, Representative Edcel Lagman, said the proclamation should be revoked, as it was baseless. He said there was no ongoing rebellion or invasion requiring such proclamation.

The two other petitions were filed on June 6 and 8 by local Mindanao leaders led by Eufemia Campos Cullamat and a group of women from Marawi led by Norkaya Mohamad, respectively.

The Malacanang welcomed the SC decision and urged the full support and cooperation of the public.

"The high court has spoken: Proclamation 216 is constitutional," said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. "The whole government now stands together as one against a common enemy."

Solicitor General Jose Calida, in a statement, said the high court ruling proves that there is ongoing rebellion in Mindanao, contrary to the petitioners' claims.

"The monumental decision of the Supreme Court affirming Proclamation 216 underscores the existence of a real and present rebellion that threatens the lives of our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao and their much-cherished liberties," Calida said.

Calida, who represented respondents Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff and martial law implementor Eduardo Año, said he is grateful to the SC's favorable ruling.

"I am grateful to the magistrates of the honorable Supreme Court for allowing President Duterte to perform his prime duty of protecting the Filipino people," he said. "As the conscience of our nation, the Supreme Court did not sit idly to watch our country to get dismembered. In fact, this decision shows that the honorable Supreme Court is one with the President in protecting and defending our country's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes, one of the petitioners, was disappointed with the results of the SC voting.

"Sa inyong ginawa na 'yan, duguan din ang inyong kamay. Kasama kayo sa mananagot sa mga pang-aabuso. Kasama kayo sa mga kumukunsinti sa rehimen ng pang-aabuso. Kasama kayo sa mga sisingilin balang araw dun sa magaganap na krimen at pang-aabuso bunga ng martial law," said Reyes.

Duterte placed Mindanao under martial rule and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus on May 23, as clashes erupted between government forces and members of the Maute terror group in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.

The government troops were about to serve a warrant of arrest against Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi when they encountered the Maute group.

The Marawi City crisis entered its 42nd day Tuesday, July 4. (LMY/Keith Calayag/Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)

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